Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Thirty Six

Previous chapter: Exploitation, Me?

Chapter Thirty Six: Sinope Macaroon.

Hera received a prize for winning a gaming contest at work. She brought the box back, with a plan to set it up the next morning. After her morning routine, she opened the box and groaned in disappointment. It was a virtual reality set. At that moment, Francesca entered Hera's room. "Where did you get that? Can I play? Did it cost a lot?" the plump young woman spouted off a lot of questions.

Hera put down the virtual reality mat and sighed as she set it up. "I got it as a contest prize. It's too bad I can't play it for long, unlike a normal computer," she said, as Francesca watched her.

"Can't play it? Is it on a limited trial?"

"I got a headache testing it out," Hera said. "You know why I have to take a nap in the car when the Lions are driving?"

Francesca shrugged. "Why can't you stay awake in the car?" she asked.

"I get motion sickness," Hera whispered. "In your case, I think you were bored of the drive. I've never been able to stay awake for an entire drive unless I'm the driver."

"The Lions won't let you drive, they complained that you drive like a madwoman back in New York."

"I can't help if the cars are just as mad there. How do Isabel and Attie manage to stay cool in the traffic?"

"They've got insurance," Francesca said matter-of-factly. "Their car's insured."

"I've got insurance too," Hera said. "Wish I could stop thinking of driving like a nut." She spread the virtual mat beside her desk and smoothed it down. "If you want to give the VR Mat a spin, be my guest."

"You can't stand the view, can you?" Francesca said, as she loaded a game from Hera's computer. The blue-eyed woman shook her head and went to the living room.

While Hera sat down and watched a blockbuster on television, Francesca tried out the game. It was a loose adaptation of Sid Meier's Pirates for systems like the Oculus Rift.
She quickly made a character, which looked a lot like her in a streamlined gown. Not that it mattered once she was in the game. Sinopia Macaroon was back in business as she bowed to King George and received a letter of marque authorizing her to hunt Spain's vessels in the New World.

After budgeting her ingame allowance, Sinopia hired a fleet of small fast ships, a skilled helmsman, and schooled herself in a swordfighting class.
She played well in projected 3D.
"Funny how I fight badly in Puzzle Cove but do better here," Francesca thought, as she swung her practice cutlass around. It clashed against the instructor's blade, and the instructor showed her how to conduct the killing blow on a dummy. She did it with near-perfect accuracy.

That was the only class required for Sinopia, and she was soon sailing for the New World, ready to chase down a treasure trove.

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Outside the virtual eighteenth century, Attie went out and placed a check with an order in the mailbox. "A little present that my cousin and I can use later," thought Attie, as she closed the box. "I don't want Isabel to know, she'll scold me all over again, I'm sure."

Attie sent her order out.
She went back in after setting the post box up for pickup. Attie made her way to the upstairs gym and changed into her sports clothes.

Hera finished watching the film, so she went out to the backyard where her rocket kit was. Attie didn't notice as she was fighting the punching bag. The blue-eyed woman whistled Danse Macabre as she worked on the rocket.

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Isabel hurried back from work, eager to tell her housemates about her promotion to a full time gallery manager at the museum. She got down from the bus and trotted down the road to the house, then stopped abruptly.
Isabel's ears pricked up.
"What's that noise?" Isabel wondered as the sound of steel clashing on stone rang from Hera's room. "Is Hera in there? I'd better look!"

She was surprised to see Francesca swinging a cutlass wildly for all she was worth. "Where's Hera?" she asked. Francesca didn't hear her as she was too busy charging up a spell. "Where is Hera?" Isabel repeated.

Francesca said, "Pause Options!" and turned to Isabel. "What?"

"I said, where is Hera?" Isabel said. "Also, can you turn down the volume of that set? Where did you get it?"

Francesca launched into a long rambling dialog about Hera's contest prize, her motion sickness, and her desire not to watch things in three dimensions. Finally, she said she didn't know where Hera was.

Isabel sighed and looked out of the window. Hera was fixing her rocket kit. "That's where she went to," said the elder Lion. Francesca saved her game and stepped away from the virtual reality mat.

Next chapter: Percussive Maintenance.

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